Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Be selfish"

"Be selfish" my husband said to me, "and focus on Karen. What Karen needs and what Karen wants. Two years ago we let Jennifer go to live her own life. She has to be able to make her own decisions and make her own mistakes."

We met Jennifer yesterday going for a walk. The job at Staples was a bait and switch swindle. Since the job offer was verbal, not in writing, there was nothing she could do. They offered her a job at $12 and hour, management with benefits, and then said that the employee she would be taking the place of had decided not to resign. So instead they offered her a part-time job without benefits at $9. So Jennifer is thinking about going back to school and working...... I don't know where. She has no definite plans. She talked about her bar tending job but none of it seemed to be convincing. I said, "you"ll be there this weekend" and she said no, that she had taken time off to start her new job. So we'll have to wait until next week to go there and have a "drink" with her. She tried to explain to me how easy it was to earn $200-$500 dollars in tips by everyone who buys a beer giving her a dollar. I still don't know. She said that in Vermont you don't need to have a license to work as a bartender and that her entire job was "off the books".

If I was fated to have a close relationship with Jennifer it probably would have already happened. I do this, I pick people who I would like to have a close friendship with and the friendship doesn't happen. I really liked Mike's sister, who he swears up and down is very sick emotionally and due for a nervous breakdown. I didn't care, I didn't see it. I just would have loved to have been her best friend. She lives in California. She is a professor of psychology at a college. A real powerhouse of a mind. A little elitist. So far out of my league.

Jennifer has a close phone relationship with her own mother. She doesn't need me. And do I need someone who is deceitful with me? My job with Jennifer is to be a mature role model. I'm supposed to be someone to look up to. Go chasing after Jennifer and she is going to run in the opposite direction. Jennifer doesn't benefit by having a needy step-mother or an interfering step-mother.

Am I being a strong, productive adult role model? No, not really. Went to art class today and painted. But I haven't been working on art. I haven't been doing much of anything except blogging and reading books and being depressed. Went up on my anti-depressant four days ago. Last night I was crying. Mike said, "Your depressed." I said, "No I'm not. I'm not suicidal." In one way I can say the extra anti-depressant is working. I don't think about death constantly. But oh, do I feel fragile. I see my nurse today. She has to authorize the increase in my medication, I did it and then left her a phone message. I know that should this increase not be enough, there is yet one more step higher we can go in the dosage. However, there may be food restrictions. I probably can't eat things like aged cheese or aged meat or soy sauce. Will find out today.

I've come to the realization that quitting my vampire book right while I was in the middle of writing it was bad for me. I have to feel like I make gains, make accomplishments. I quit because I feared it was too flawed for publication. Why spend a lot of effort on something that is going to be rejected by all publishers? But my brother has read my work, and he believes in me. I've thought about the book and say to myself that eventually I will re-write it and I can fix the problems then. Even if the book doesn't eventually get published I have an idea for a second book, and that second book with benefit from the experience I gain finishing the vampire novel. It is true that the more you write the better your writing becomes. But the experience of finishing what I started is key. I will not like myself very much if I view myself as a quitter.

At one time in my life I made a huge sacrifice, in the spirit that I was committing myself to becoming an author. I had myself sterilized so that I could concentrate on writing. I decided that I would rather write books than become a mother, because with my illness, I saw no way of doing both. Well, perhaps I have gotten off track by painting. Painting has not turned out the way I had hoped. It is hard to sell my work, hard to make any money. I doubt the extent of my talent in the visual arts. It is there. But it is not huge. And it does not progress the way my writing progresses while I am working on a book. I think my talent as a writer exceeds my talent as a painter. And then there is the history. I have spent many more years trying to write something of value than I have trying to paint. In my bones I'm more used to working with words. It doesn't help that schizophrenia is a cognitive disorder, and that writing is so dependent on cognitive power. I'm relying upon a tool that is diseased. I do have a little hope though that the more I do it, the more things in my brain will heal and branch out and work around what is disabled. Part of my motivation when I blog is the knowledge that I am challenging and working my brain. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, vampires or painting or depression, all writing is a practice of the art of literature. It is practice thinking.

My course is settled. I will finish my vampire novel. During the next several days I plan to re-read my husband's book "The Judas Crux" that my novel is based upon. I will also re-read everything that I have written so far and try to get to the point where I have a vision in my head of what has already been written and what needs to be written next. I quit typing in the middle of a chapter, but everything that was to have happened in that chapter was already planned in a hand written rough draft. By my estimations I could be working directly on the book by next week.

However there are two mitigating factors. I am still attending art school and have a painting that needs a lot of attention. I painted the sky today and so three quarters of the painting is covered in wet paint. I have to wait for the paint to dry. But once it is dry I can start glazing on my thin, transparent layers of color. My teacher is used to seeing me do a lot of work at home. I don't want to disappoint her since she is primarily responsible for me getting my scholarship. The painting holds promise to be quite lovely. I have to use many of my mornings working on this painting and doing drawings for the next one. The course is through to the end of May. This is enough time to finish one painting and at least start a second. I said that it hurt me to quit my book, I think it would hurt me too to quit giving my art class my full attention. I may be able to divide my attention, I don't know, it really has never worked before. It has always been painting or writing, full steam ahead.

So I don't think I will use these next several mornings preparing to re-enter a writing project. Instead, while the paint is wet on my current canvass, I will draw. It is a relief to say that the depression I've suffered has withdrawn enough that I can envision a morning of drawing. In the evening, when my mind is not as sharp as usual I will revisit the Judas Crux and re-read my writing. Evening times are usually for reading and watching t.v., it is rare for something creative to happen at night. But who knows, maybe I've got some ideas that will go down in a notebook.

There is a unique task on my horizon besides drawing. I want to write my sister a long letter. She returns to California with her toddler daughter today. I want to tell her how precious the time was that we spent together on her visit. She is family who, unlike London, expresses her love for me and who I am certain values me simply for who I am. I want a better relationship with London, but I already have a wonderful relationship with my sister. I want to tend to the family that I am certain and not conflicted about. And my sister, I know, does not lie to me. The deeper my sister is revealed to me the more wonderful I think she is. As with any person there is mystery, but I don't fear the mystery of my sister. The letter will certainly surprise her. I plan for it to be full of love and good cheer. Something to make her feel warm inside.

So, write a letter, paint and draw until May, and then a push to finish my aborted vampire book. It is wonderful to have a plan.

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